Weight Loss & Fitness

3FatChicks on a diet! – Support for diet and weight loss


Researchers have long believed that the home food environment is an important factor in the obesity epidemic. A recent study published in the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior found startling evidence to support these beliefs. The study, which focused primarily on obese, low-income African-American women in southwest Georgia, identified factors contributing to obesity, such as the types of food available at home, the where these foods are stored, how the foods are prepared, how the foods (both home prepared and from outside) are served, whether or not television is watched while eating, and the level healthy eating support from other family members.

Although a majority of participants in this study brought home a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, they also had access to a substantial amount of high-fat snacks, frequently watched television while eating, ate out away from home (typically, fast food) almost three days a week and regularly participated in unhealthy food preparation methods, such as deep frying.

What does this mean for you? It is important to take stock of unhealthy eating behaviors in your home. While it’s important to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s obviously not enough to deter people from making unhealthy food choices that promote obesity.

Here are some simple ways to improve the health of your home food environment.

1. Turn off the TV while eating.

Research suggests this is difficult, especially for people who spend a lot of time at home. Try to use the warmer weather of the season by dining outdoors, using nature as the focal point instead of your TV. Establish a strict rule that whenever your family eats, even snacks, the television must be turned off. Music can also be a great substitute and it encourages a positive food environment.

2. Dump high-fat snack foods from your home.

While fat isn’t necessarily the culprit, eating easily accessible, high-fat processed snacks can interfere with weight loss. Replace processed fats with natural fats, such as avocados, nuts, and eggs. Incorporate lighter, healthier foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, to encourage weight loss and improve overall health.

3. Limit fast food.

This is a difficult task for many people, especially those who are too busy to cook during the day. If you must order fast food, take stock of healthier menu options and avoid sodas and other sugary drinks. If possible, use your weekend to prepare meals for a week. It’s easy to make light stir-fries, roasts, soups and sauces, like marinara or pesto, then store them for easy cooking on weeknights.

4. Cut out sugary drinks.

Among the many factors mentioned in an unhealthy household food environment, the consumption of sugary drinks was quite common for the majority of obese participants in the study. Sugar can be extremely harmful to the body and known to increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Reducing your intake of this potentially dangerous and addictive substance is important for your overall health. Get into the habit of drinking water with meals and limiting juice to one eight-ounce glass a day. By cutting out just one soda a day, you can save 87,600 calories per year, which is about 25 pounds. Water adds no calories and helps your body eliminate toxins.

5. Learn healthy food preparation methods.

Frying is a surefire way to add unnecessary fat and calories to your meals. The majority of people who participated in the home food environment study used unhealthy food preparation methods. Avoid recipes that call for frying foods or dipping them in high-fat, high-calorie sauces. Also avoid using processed carbs as the main food source on your plate. If you use lighter preparations, such as baking and light stir-fries, while reducing your intake of processed carbs and limiting portion sizes, you’ll encourage healthier eating for everyone in your home.

Creating a healthy food environment at home isn’t as difficult as it seems. With a little effort, attention to negative eating behaviors, and a dedication to making meaningful dietary changes, your home can be a healthy oasis, not a crash pad for extra calories.

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